The Post, 9/20

With a slight chill in the air, the fall season is upon us. That means that nearly all of our state's higher education institutions are in session, and the students are working hard to make themselves more marketable, obtain academic degrees and contribute to our economy--hopefully within Ohio.

The fact of the matter is that our state is fortunate to have many colleges and universities, and they are certainly some of the best in the country. Whether obtaining an associate's degree, bachelor's degree or an advanced degree, students flock to Ohio in order to gain a world-class education. This is something that we as Ohioans should be very proud of. It contributes to our long-term growth, as well as attracts some of the brightest minds to our state.

Throughout my time as House speaker, we have fought to ensure that our higher education institutions can continually bring in a vast array of people. We have worked very closely with the leadership of such institutions in order to accomplish this. Some of the conclusions reached are that efforts must be made to keep a college education affordable and allow our universities the flexibility to adapt to a lack of money in the state. Additionally, we have provided financial support to a number of schools in every corner of Ohio.

Regardless of the challenging times we have faced, support for higher education is something that receives broad, bipartisan support in Columbus. I believe this is because we recognize that a commitment to the entrepreneurial spirit and today's marketplace will significantly pay off down the road.

Some of the actions we have taken to assist Ohio's college students include capping annual tuition increases at 3.5 percent. Although tuition rates have been rising across the country, we hold the view that keeping tuition down helps attract the eyes of the best and brightest people out there. Hopefully, it keeps them in Ohio, as well. While they are studying here, they might take advantage of a pilot program that includes digital textbooks and other content. We included this provision in the state budget, as well as allowing students who attend for-profit colleges to take advantage of the Ohio College Opportunity Grant awards, just as students who attend both public and private four-year institutions in Ohio can.

In the fight against brain drain, where our young people flock to other states for jobs and other opportunities, we made it possible for Ohio's high school graduates to receive in-state tuition rates so long as they return to our borders for their education within a specified time frame of graduating high school. This will help contribute to our economy by adding to the qualified pool of applicants to fill certain jobs.

Perhaps one of the areas that will most benefit Ohio's higher education institutions is the area of construction reform. Through the changes the House made, our state's public construction laws are being modernized in a way that has been needed for years. Bringing these laws up to date frees our universities from outdated rules and regulations that are purely inefficient. As a result, they can save on both time and costs associated with such projects and focus more on the students' education.

It's my hope that we will continue to see the benefits that come as a result of some of the legislation brought forward by the Ohio House regarding our universities and their students. I'm confident that Ohio will maintain its reputation as a state that offers a variety of educational opportunities that will prepare students to be leaders for generations to come.


Post a Comment